A handy trick to easily cut your ferret's toenails without needing a second person, without scruffing, and without a struggle!
We run a ferret shelter and often have over 400 toenails to cut every three weeks. This handy trick will allow you to take your time cutting your ferret's nails so you won't have any nicks and you can keep the QuikStop in the cabinet where it belongs. This will show you the appropriate and easiest tools to use to cut your ferret's nails.
Step 1: Trouble Cutting Ferret Toenails?
Does it always take two people to trim your ferret's nails? Does she squirm and make things difficult? Try the following steps!
Step 2: Get Your Cutting Tools Ready!
In order to cut your ferret's nails you will need a pair of nail clippers. The small "cat" clippers shown are the easiest to use because they cut the nail from the side. Using dog-style guillotine clippers causes the nail to splinter at the ends and often makes it too difficult to not cut into the quick (the pink part that bleeds all over if you cut it). Some people use human toenail clippers, but I find they are awkward when holding a ferret and cutting from the side. Small cat clippers are the tool of choice.
You'll see some stypic powder next to the clippers on a paper towel. If you are not sure of your ability to cut your ferret's nails, keep this around in case you do hit the quick. It will stop bleeding almost immediately. Corn starch can also stop bleeding, although not as quickly, should you need it.
Step 3: The Most Important Added Step
If you've ever had a ferret, you've probably have experience with ferretone. Ferretone is a product that ferrets love so much they do almost anything for it. If you use this to keep your ferret's attention, you can easily work with their nails. You'll notice how the ferrets enjoy the bottle. Ferretone by 8n1 or Marshall's version are readily available at most pet stores or online pet suppliers. I have found that most ferrets prefer the Ferretone 8n1 flavor over the Marshall's brand.
Step 4: Select a Ferret and Grab Your Ferretone
Here is Finnigan, you'll notice he is already interested in the bottle.
Step 5: Assess Nail Condition
If you are new to nail trimming, be sure to look at your ferret's nails. You will notice there is a white longer part and an inner pink area (called the quick). You will want to trim the white part as close to the pink without cutting into it as possible.
If your ferret's nails have sharp points at the tips, you need to trim them more often. Ferrets should not be allowed to grow their nails to a sharp point. Notice in the picture that the tips are long, but blunt.
Step 6: Nail Diagram
If you are still unsure of where you cut, use this diagram to help you.
Step 7: Back to Finnigan! Prepping the Ferret.
Hold your ferret with your less dominant hand so he/she is cradled as if he/she was a baby. With the other hand, pour some ferretone onto the ferret's belly. If your ferret doesn't realize what is going on, use the tip of the bottle to lead his/her nose into the puddle of goodness on his/her stomach. Licking should begin immediately. Quick! Put the bottle down and grab the clippers!
Step 8: Begin Cutting
Still cradling the ferret, use the cradling arm to hold out the ferret's back foot . Use the clippers to easily clip the nails while the ferret is licking off the ferretone. You can take your time and not worry about any sudden movements while you are clipping. If your ferret licks off all the 'tone before you are finished, just add more. Clip the back nails in this way. I find turning the ferret around in my arms helps me to do the opposite-side nails more easily. (See video at the end for a demo!)
Step 9: Front Nails
Continue on to the front nails until all 20 nails are finished. Look he's still licking!
Step 10: When Finished
When you are finished clipping, you may even find that when you put your ferret down, he/she is still trying to lick off the ferretone. If you have other ferrets around, they may come over to try to get a taste too.
Step 11: Finished! on to the Next Ferret!
Look at those short nails!!
Step 12: Without Ferretone Demo
Clover the shelter ferret is not very excited about what is going on right now and she wants to stick her head right inbetween the clipper blades. She even lightly grabs my thumb letting me know she is not happy about the process.
Step 13: Compare to How Easy It Is With Ferretone!
This is Mr. Roco in the video.
Step 14: Good Luck!
All photos were taken at the Emmett Ferret Shelter using shelter and ambassador ferrets of the shelter. No ferrets were harmed in the making of this video.
Good luck and may you have much success in your ferret grooming process!!